Book Review :: Build Your Own Web Site

In an effort to utilize my librarian background, I am embarking on a series of book reviews; to be published on Fridays. These reviews will cover science education books for and about children, as well as reality-based children’s books for a Montessori lifestyle.

A picture of the book, Build Your Own Web site

Ages 10 and up
Martin, Chris. Build Your Own Web Site (Quick Expert’s Guide). The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.:  New York, 2014.

Overview

This age appropriate guide will help young students learn more about the world wide web and the process of making a web site. The book starts out with a brief history of HTML and the significance of some of its properties, such as using tags to display content. The full-color pages will appeal to today’s students and the side bits provide relevant information.

Unfortunately, the book is also disorganized and poorly designed. There are WAY too many callouts. These can give extra information, but can also become a distraction when writing web pages. In-text definitions are a fabulous way to use callouts. Regrettably, the publishers have used callouts to occasionally provide step-by-step information. Consistency is not always easy to discern and that may make it difficult for students to follow along as they build their own web sites.

A picture of the table of contents for the book, Build Your Own Web SiteBuilding a Web Site

After some background information regarding HTML building, the author suggests that we start making our own web page. He begins by providing the tags needed. Unfortunately, any mention of where to type up this information is nowhere near this page. It may have been mentioned at the beginning of the book, but we have forgotten it as we began coding. This chapter needs to start out with a brief description on how to use a text editor – for Windows and Macs. I also didn’t see any mention of saving your document with an HTML extension.

IMG_2068Layout and Instructions

Thankfully, there is a brief sample of the actual code for a simple site. Unfortunately, that is followed by an explanation of ‘nesting,’ but there are no accompanying screenshots. The paragraph refers to the above listing of HTML, but inexperienced students might have a hard time visualizing why nesting is important with such a short bit of code.

Although there are a lot of images and color pictures, I wish there were more useful screenshots. The pictures from this book were taken from Shutterstock, and although they are catchy – actual HTML screenshots would have been much more useful.

IMG_2070

After typing our code for a simple document and adding links, the author shows us how to add an image to our page. The author does suggest it’s not okay to swipe images from the web, but he follows that sentence with a brief description of “fair use.” The line regarding fair use is valid, but it may be too complex for students to truly grasp. I would have liked for this topic to receive greater coverage.

There are also not enough step-by-step instructions; too many tidbits are scattered throughout various chapters. For example, knowing how to refresh your page is really important when building web pages. Unfortunately, this tidbit is not mentioned until page 24 – well after someone has theoretically been writing (and saving) HTML pages.

I really like the look and feel of this book, but found it too hard to follow. The author is obviously knowledgeable and included relevant information. Sadly, it’s scattered throughout the book.

IMG_2069Publishing Web Sites

This book does have one advantage over Innovation Library’s Web Design with HTML5. This book mentions how to publish your pages to the world wide web. Since most of these sites require parental permission for under age 13, students can learn more about online safety from a trusted adult. As a parent, I would have liked to see an actual warning about online safety. Instead, the author provides a list of organizations in the appendix.

A picture of the glossary for the book, Build Your Own Web SiteFinal Verdict

In conclusion, I think this might be a valuable asset to a teacher using HTML in the classroom, especially if combined with another book on the mechanics of how to type up an HTML document. The book provides a lot of opportunities to find out small pieces of information about HTML. Unfortunately, I would not recommend this book for a student to use on their own. The information is too random, not well-organized and lacks the appropriate warnings about publishing information online.  I find the organizational structure to be haphazard, which makes it a poor learning tool for self-teaching.